Currently, more than 14% of the world’s population is pre-obese or obese. The percentage is even higher in developed countries. Obesity is an important risk factor for a vast number of nonmalignant and malignant digestive diseases. Some of the more important examples are cholelithiasis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease on the one hand and esophageal adenocarcinoma, gastric cardia adenocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, and colorectal cancer on the other hand. Their epidemic trends as reported in recent studies are reviewed here. Knowledge of their dependencies on obesity will yield a deeper understanding which is necessary to improve prevention and treatment concepts of this epidemic.

World Health Organization: Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 2000;894:i–xii, 1–253.
International Obesity Task Force., 2010.
Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland: Ergebnisse des Mikrozensus, 2009.
Peeters A, Barendregt JJ, Willekens F, Mackenbach JP, Al Mamun A, Bonneux L, NEDCOM, the Netherlands Epidemiology and Demography Compression of Morbidity Research Group: Obesity in adulthood and its consequences for life expectancy: a life-table analysis. Ann Intern Med 2003;138:24–32.
Berrington de Gonzalez A, Hartge P, Cerhan JR, Flint AJ, et al: Body-mass index and mortality among 1.46 million white adults. N Engl J Med 2010;363:2211–2219.
Alberti KGMM, Eckel RH, Grundy SM, Zimmet PZ, Cleeman JI, Donato KA, Fruchart JC, James WPT, Loria CM, Smith SC: Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation 2009;120:1640–1645.
International Diabetes Federation: The IDF consensus worldwide definition of the metabolic syndrome., 2006.
Vigneri P, Frasca F, Sciacca L, Pandini G, Vigneri R: Diabetes and cancer. Endocr Relat Cancer 2009;16:1103–1123.
Ryo M, Nakamura T, Kihara S, Kumada M, Shibazaki S, Takahashi M, Nagai M, Matsuzawa Y, Funahashi T: Adiponectin as a biomarker of the metabolic syndrome. Circ J 2004;68:975–981.
Haslam DW, James WPT: Obesity. Lancet 2005;366:1197–1209.
Frayn KN: Obesity and metabolic disease: is adipose tissue the culprit? Proc Nutr Soc 2005;64:7–13.
Ostrowska L, Czapska D, Karczewski JK: Body weight gain as the major risk factor of cholelithiasis in women and an important risk factor in man. Rocz Akad Med Bialymst 2005;50:54–56.
Stampfer MJ, Maclure KM, Colditz GA, Manson JE, Willett WC: Risk of symptomatic gallstones in women with severe obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:652–658.
Koller T, Kollerova J, Hlavaty T, Huorka M, Payer J: Cholelithiasis and markers of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in patients with metabolic risk factors. Scand J Gastroenterol 2012;47:197–202.
Bechmann LP, Hannivoort RA, Gerken G, Hotamisligil GS, Trauner M, Canbay A: The interaction of hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism in liver diseases. J Hepatol 2012;56:952–964.
Lagergren J: Influence of obesity on the risk of esophageal disorders. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2011;8:340–347.
Nillson M, Johnsen R, Ye W, Hveem K, Lagergren J: Obesity and estrogen as risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. JAMA 2003;290:66–72.
Corley DA, Kubo A: Body mass index and gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol 2006;101:2619–2628.
Nam SY, Choi IJ, Ryu KH, Park BJ, Kim HB, Nam BH: Abdominal visceral adipose tissue volume is associated with increased risk of erosive esophagitis in men and women. Gastroenterology 2010;139:1823–1826.
Calle EE, Kaaks R: Overweight, obesity and cancer: epidemiological evidence and proposed mechanisms. Nat Rev Cancer 2004;4:579–591.
Abnet CC, Freedman ND, Hollenbeck AR, Fraumeni JF, Leitzmann M, Schatzkin A: A prospective study of BMI and risk of oesophageal and gastric adenocarcinoma. Eur J Cancer 2008;44:465–471.
Weiderpass E, Partanen T, Kaaks R, Vainio H, Porta M, Kauppinen T, Ojajärvi A, Boffetta P, Malats N: Occurrence, trends and environmental etiology of pancreatic cancer. Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24:165–174.
Batty GD, Kivimaki M, Morrison D, Huxley R, Smith GD, Clarke R, Marmot MG, Shipley MJ: Risk factors for pancreatic cancer mortality: extended follow-up of the original Whitehall study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18:673–675.
Moghaddam AA, Woodward M, Huxley R: Obesity and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of 31 studies with 70,000 events. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007;16:2533–2547.
Larsson SC, Wolk A: Obesity and colon and rectal cancer risk: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:556–565.
Wolin KY, Carson K, Colditz GA: Obesity and Cancer. Oncologist 2010;15:556–565.
Polesel J, Zucchetto A, Montella M, Dal Maso L, Crispo A, La Vecchia C, Serraino D, Franceschi S, Talamini R: The impact of obesity and diabetes mellitus on the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Ann Oncol 2009;20:353–357.
Schütte K, Bornschein J, Malfertheiner P: Hepatocellular carcinoma – epidemiological trends and risk factors. Dig Dis 2009;27:80–92.
Tanaka K, Tsuji I, Tamakoshi A, Matsuo K, Ito H, Wakai K, Nagata C, Mizoue T, Sasazuki S, Inoue M, Tsugane S: Obesity and liver cancer risk: an evaluation based on a systematic review of epidemiologic evidence among the Japanese population. Jpn J Clin Oncol 2012;42:212–221.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.